“It wasn’t a tough decision,” said Andray Blatche after he was asked what led him to decide he wanted to be a naturalized Filipino citizen. “The opportunity I’ve received to come out here and represent the Philippines is something you can only wish for.”
Blatche attended a press conference during the second half of the PBA game between the Meralco Bolts and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. After entering the room, Blatche had everyone’s attention. He’s a high-profile NBA player who agreed to be a Filipino citizen to help out the country’s basketball team. Blatche had all the right to be a snob but he wasn’t. His easy-going attitude made him very easy to for the Filipino fans watching the game.
“It’s amazing. It’s truly a blessing to come out here and learn the culture. All the people have been super generous and nice to me,” Blatche said.
Asked what he plans to do to help the Philippines, Blatche said that he wants nothing more that to repay the people who put in the effort to get him here.
“I owe it to the people who worked very hard to get me into this position. I need to come out here and work hard and get wins,” he said. “[The Senators and Congressmen] have been more than I could appreciate. I’m very thankful for the effort they put in.”
Blatche, who joked that he is really half-Filipino and that he is Manny Pacquiao’s cousin, plans to study the Philippine brand of basketball and learn to play with the FIBA ball while he’s back in the United States.
“Coach [Chot Reyes] taught me a little bit about how the offense works and I met a couple of players,” he said. “I can see that they’re playing with a lot of heart and they’ve been physical. [Playing against NBA players] is not going to be an adjustment for me. I’ve been playing in that level since I was 18 years old.”
Blatche added that he will be watching the games of Gilas Pilipinas in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
“I’ll be watching tapes so I can know how the guys play offense and defense,” Blatche said. “I’ll be working out with the FIBA ball so I can familiarize myself a little bit. It’s a little different but it’s not a game-changing difference.”
The NBA player further endeared himself to the members of the media when he answered a phone call from an iPhone used as a recorder in front of him.
“Kamusta?” asked Blatche, drawing cheers and applause from the writers.
Asked what he’ll bring to the table for Gilas Pilipinas, Blatche simply said “Height.”
“I’m going to play my game. I’ll be an offensive threat. I’ll play with energy, run the court. I’ll go out there and compete, try hard to get wins,” Blatche added.
“The sport of basketball is huge here. I love basketball so we have many similarities. I’ve met some of my teammates and we’re all in the same page. Our vibe is clicking. I’m going to Spain and I’ll play in Korea and we’ll go from there.”
“I’m half Filipino so it’s easy to be here.”